Nortel Networks is expanding the number of unified communications (UC) starter bundles it sells in order to give organisations an even greater chance to try IP-based telephony.
The company has added four kits - combinations of an application server plus either IP phones or softphones - to the initial starter kits launched under the programme last year.
Net Payne, Nortel's vice-president of North American enterprise marketing, said the bundles "meet the needs of companies who want to use these applications but aren't ready to make the commitment to a full-blown upgrade and unified communications deployment."
Each kit - which sells for between $29,000 and $57,000 (£14,800 - £29,100) - includes an IBM server loaded with Nortel's Communications Server 1000, up to 25 licences for Nortel Multimedia Client for Lotus Notes, up to 25 licences for Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 or Live Communications Server 2005, plus other products depending on the kit.
Designed to plug straight into most networks even if the organisation is not a Nortel customer, it lets users able to take advantage of IP-based calls, instant messaging, video conferencing and other features.
The new choices, all of which include digital trunking for connection to a PBX, include:
- the Road Warrior starter kit, which for $30,000 (£15,300) includes a soft-phone application;
- the Work At Home kit, which includes 25 Nortel IP 2004 desktop phones for home workers, 25 Nortel business Ethernet switches;
- the Mobile IP starter kit, which for $41,000 (£21,000) includes 10 wireless LAN handsets and three WLAN access points and a security switch;
- the Unified Communications kit, which for $40,000 (£20,400) includes 25 softphones and is aimed at companies ready to deploy a complete UC solution.
All include digital trunking for connection to a PXB. (Prices are suggested by Nortel, but channel partners may sell for less).
"The intent is to make [each kit] as all-inclusive as a customer needs to easily get up and running with the applications that are most important to their business," said Payne.
"With these kits you can pick those people you really want to test it with - the 25 people working from home scenario, or you can test it on the manufacturing floor with wireless LAN and the ability to see the [online] presence and availability of experts."
Nortel, IBM and Microsoft are betting that once companies try UC they'll see the benefits and buy more of their gear and licences to roll it out to the entire organisation.
"The whole focus is to enable people to start on an IP path without having to totally replace their current infrastructure because it may be cost-prohibitive at this point," said Jeff Deneen, Nortel's director of UC marketing.
"We've found that once people see it being used there's a viral impact - when they come by a desk and they see [the softphone] client on the desktop and a conversation begins. It's a helpful way for an IT department to roll out the infrastructure because then their clients are asking for new technology rather than it being pushed on them."
Since launching the programme Nortel has sold kits with some 900,000 licences around the world, Payne said.